making the trek

Trekking through life: Faith, family, friends and a whole lot of coffee!

Marriage=Hard June 7, 2014

wedding

Anyone remember their Pre-Cana weekend?  Classes?  Some, all or none?  My memory is pretty crapola these days…I blame multitasking, 4 kids and age.  Maybe I should do more Sudoku or 20, 40, 8 or whatever that game is.  Gingko?  Whatever…getting off track here.

I vaguely remember our Pre-Cana meetings with our Priest as more of a checking off of the boxes and looking back I’m certain he probably wanted to forehead smack both of us.  We were barely active in the Church and going through the motions, however, clearly the seed was planted because….here we are…20 years later and growing everyday in our Faith, Marriage and family.  It’s been a mind-blowing 20 years.  To say the least.

The thing is, I don’t remember much about Pre-Cana.  I remember a lot of vague, surface discussions.  Discussions on the budget and maintaining a joint checking account were the main things I remember, and that’s it.  NFP?  Not so much.  Marriage being hard?  Not really.  So, whether it is my p.poor memory or my 23 year-old naive self, Pre-Cana didn’t really prepare me or scare me.

I take you to be my  lawfully wedded spouse,  my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

I would have loved if we could have taken an in-depth look at those vows:

  • Lawfully wedded, constant friend.  Your spouse comes first.  Always and forever.  Your best friend.  Girlfriends are second and friends come and go as you move through seasons of life.  Pick wisely and you will never be lonely.
  • Faithful partner.  There is a reason men and women shouldn’t be alone together if they aren’t married.  It’s called a fallen world.  Free will.  Attractions will happen and we are all human; it takes a lot of effort to go from foot loose and fancy free to hitched forever.  It can be overwhelming.  Be honest and be sure you are both up for the task and be ready to decide if you can be forgiving if one or both of you fall.  It’s a tough and enticing world out there and marriage isn’t a deterrent to some.  There’s a reason 50%+ of marriages fail.  And infidelity doesn’t always come in the form of a person.
  • Sickness and health.  You will both get sick.  You will both need caretaking.  Be loving.  Be awesome.  Be kind.  Be thankful you are in this together, because being sick is something no one enjoys.  Being a caregiver is no picnic either.  You’ll both have a turn, be ready.
  • Savor and relish the good times and know that bad times will come.  Be a team.  Fight for each other.  Fight for your marriage.  Life is a constant change, ebb and flow and the better you work together, the stronger your marriage will be.  Dig in.
  • Love unconditionally.  This takes practice.  Every day.  All day.  For life.  Staying in love is work.   Put in the sweat equity.  You’ll reap a harvest far beyond your expectations.
  • Support each other.  Careers change.  Dreams evolve.  Work it together.  Marriage is team work.  Be flexible and be each other’s greatest cheerleader.  You’ll take risks in your careers and when you do it together the reward is so much sweeter.
  • Respect each other.   Criticize in love and in private.  The tongue is a savage beast and those words….well, don’t believe the rhyme…it’s all backwards:  words wound.  Be respectful always in word and in deed.
  • Laugh together.  Often.  Experience life joyfully.  It is far too short to be taken so seriously.  A huge area of weakness for this bride who, far too often gets caught up in all the “must do’s” and details of life.  Laughter is free therapy.
  • Cry together.  Forgiveness is hard.  Loss is hard.  Change is hard.  Life is hard.  There will be tears and if nothing else, hold each other through the storm.
  • Cherish each other.  This is your best friend.  Your life partner.  Your help mate.  Your help meet.  Your other half.  Your better half.  Your worse  half.  Your half.

So maybe Pre-Cana DID cover these…maybe I wasn’t listening….maybe it takes 20 years.

More to come….on marriage and vow renewals….stay tuned! 😉

 

Divine Mercy and Pope Saints April 27, 2014

Today we are blessed with 2 new saints to our army of intercessors, friends to pray with us, friends to pray for us and friends who were once Pope.  Jenny is hosting a little gathering of memories of Saint Pope John Paull II and there are a ton of great stories, photos and pictures,  a great way to remember the man and to celebrate the saint!

My contribution contains no personal photos of up close and in person with JPII and no earth-shattering and profound moments except that when I came back to my faith in the late 90s, early 2000s, John Paul II was Pope, when my world fell apart in 2003, John Paul II was Pope, when we entered our season of separation and survival, John Paul II was Pope, as we ended our first school year in that season, John Paul II passed away.  The foundation had been poured and the example of his own mercy, forgiveness and love for humanity penetrated deep into my own heart and has since been lived out in ways that can only be accredited to “By the Grace of God” through the living example of Pope John Paul II.  Not only did he pray for mercy for the whole world (see a portion of the Divine Mercy Chaplet below),  he sought to bring his whole flock to the faith and love of Christ and he fought hard for the youth, knowing that the  young are our future.  Perhaps that is the message that sticks with me the greatest.  And so today, Divine Mercy Sunday, we welcome 2 new Saints and rejoice in the example of faith in their lives and hopefully go forward sharing our own faith with all we come in contact with, that we may all come to love and trust in the saving power of Christ in His endless Mercy, Compassion and Grace.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

I’ve tried to find out a bit more about Saint John XXIII as well and just loved his quotes I found this morning on the Catholic News Service…because we should all find some humor in life (which I often struggle with among the daily “must-dos”)!


1. Visiting a hospital he asked a boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. The boy said either a policeman or a pope. “I would go in for the police if I were you,” the Holy Father said. “Anyone can become a pope, look at me!”

2. “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about the serious problems afflicting the world and I tell myself, I must talk to the pope about it. Then the next day when I wake up I remember that I am the pope.”

3. In reply to a reporter who asked, “How many people work in the Vatican?”, he reportedly said: “About half of them.”

4. When a cardinal complained that a rise in Vatican salaries meant a particular usher earned as much as the cardinal, the pope remarked: “That usher has 10 children; I hope the cardinal doesn’t.”

5. When he went to visit a friend at the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit in the evening, the nun answering the door said: “Holy Father, I’m the mother superior of the Holy Spirit.” He replied: “Lucky you! What a job! I’m just the ‘servant of the servants of God.'”

6. Not long after he was elected pope, Blessed John was walking in the streets of Rome. A woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing what she said, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”

7. He once wrote: “There are three ways to face ruin: women, gambling and farming. My father chose the most boring one.”

8. When he was cardinal and patriarch of Venice, the future pope was talking with a wealthy city resident and told him, “You and I have one thing in common: money. You have a lot and I have nothing at all. The difference is I don’t care about it.”

9. When a journalist asked the then-patriarch of Venice what he would be if he could live his life all over again, the future pope said, “Journalist.” Then he said with a smile, “Now let us see if you have the courage to tell me that, if you could do it all over again, you’d be the patriarch!”

10. A Vatican official told the pope it would be “absolutely impossible” to open the Second Vatican Council by 1963. “Fine, we’ll open it in 1962,” he answered. And he did.

Today as we welcome these Saints we can pray,

“Saint John Paul II and Saint John XXIII, pray for us and the whole world.”

 

Snapchat and all that January 1, 2014

I had a few different friends post a recent article on Snapchat and the dangers it poses; you can read the article HERE.   I also saw a recent similar article on Catholicmom.  (The actual article escapes me, but they regularly have great updated “app” articles to keep me in the loop and are my GO-TO source on all apps and tech stuff).  Articles such as these wake me in the middle of the night filled with fear, anxiety and dread.  Paralyzing dread and all-kinds of wild, fear-based planning to keep my children cocooned and protected from every hidden danger ever known or unknown.  Makes for a super restful sleep.  Not.

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However, we must LIVE our life.  Pray without ceasing and learn from our mistakes and move on to live another day.  We must teach our children to do the same thing.  No easy task in this day and age of insta-everything with no youthful mistake or regret left undocumented (to which I say daily “Thank you, JESUS, that we did not have the internet when WE were growing up”).

In this techno age there will always be a Snapchat.  As soon as we parents catch on and log in, there’s a new app that’s hot and drawing the kids in by droves.  We can uninstall, remove tech devices, forbid cable, internet usage, friends, etc, etc, etc.  To what extent though?  What choices are we left with?  We have to do something and whatever we do will have a result, good, bad or ugly.  We, as parents, can choose avoidance or we can face it head on.  Don’t hide your head in the sand; choose to put on your gear and prepare for battle:  protect your children through education and preparation.   Agree or disagree or take it with a grain of salt, here’s our approach:

Lead by example.  Kids learn by mimicking us.  I only need to listen in on a disagreement between kids to hear how I REALLY need to work on my intonation and patience with them.  It ain’t pretty.  Same goes for tech stuff.  If your face is constantly on your phone and every text, status update and ‘Gram is a lead-in for most conversations it might be time to step back.  Let me introduce you to the “silent” feature on your phone and/or removing social apps or scaling back.  Phone free dinners are mandatory in our house and so is participation in daily “highs and lows”.  Sometimes it’s all we can do to get through dinner without a free for all, but expectations are there and are observed.

Knowledge is power and as parents we are called (like it or not) to be abreast of this technology, so dig in and find a few websites to regularly check in and learn about apps and how to navigate them.  And for the love of Pete, find a spot to put down all your usernames and passwords, because these apps are like rabbits…the more there are…the more there are.

search

Communication is key.  Regular conversations about life, plugged and un-plugged are key.  We don’t home school (and I applaud ALL who can and do) and as a result our kids are privy to a WIDE variety of people, lifestyles and situations in their public schools, friendships and extracurricular activities.  Much is cringe-worthy and the teach-able moments are never-ending, however, my personal approach continues to evolve from lecture giver to observer and navigational assistant in managing these moments.  A constant work in progress, I assure you.  (Hubby is often far more about keeping it simple in explanations:  truthful but short and sweet).   It’s getting easier for me though and when our 10yo daughter is trying to explain the friendship she has with a sweet boy as a “friend with advantages”, I quickly correct here to the correct phrase of “friends with benefits” and explain that since that means a friend who you have sex with and no special relationship and that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the way to describe THIS  friendship, she is at once shocked and understands that sometimes we all need clarification.  (In truth, this boy is a friend, who happens to be a boy, that she can talk with like her girlfriends and at 10 it’s such a unique phenomenon she isn’t sure how to classify him.  I let her know that “friend” is purely acceptable and applicable.)  Would you not be so blunt?  Perhaps not.  However, I am all about honesty and saying it like it is; beating around the bush is just crap.

Participation and being present.  I  personally struggle with this in our daily busy-ness.  We both work full-time, our kids are in school all day, our oldest works, we have a variety of kid activities, church, etc.  It’s busy, from morning coffee to passing out after evening prayers.  The importance of chatting about our day (mentioned above during dinner) and addressing any concerns or just planning out dreams and enjoying newfound passions are crucial to a kid’s security and growth.  It doesn’t take a whole evening, but a few FOCUSED minutes on a kid speaks volumes for days.   You don’t need to look much further than any number of crash and burn famous kid moments (or maybe even some you know personally) to see the link between parent and kiddo is nonexistent or shaky at best.

After a long-story-short, my summary is this:

1.  Set the example.  Modify Ghandi’s quote to fit your family and “BE the change you want to see in your children/marriage/family”.

2.  Stay informed.  Be aware.  Learn the trends.  If we are all about it, it loses its luster and excitement and the shock/thrill loses its power.

3.  Talk.  Talk.  Talk.  And then talk some more.  Communication is key in marriage, parenting and life and it is CONSTANT.

4.  Be present.  Listen.  Ask.  Listen.  Learn.

Bottom line is, they are kids.  They are navigating childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.  They will screw up 1000 times over and they need us present to help them untangle those unfortunate moments of growing up.  We can hope they will avoid the bullying, sexting and variety of other fears we know lurk daily and we will do the best we can to protect them.  At the end of the day, the education we can provide for them in the school of life is the best chance they have.

Isaiah 41:10

           ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
            Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
            I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
            Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 

 

#Affluenza: are you kidding me? December 14, 2013

It seems we’ve come to a whole new low in society, the final fruit of a generation of spoiled children and parents who (it would seem) have failed to set boundaries and actually parent their offspring.

If you aren’t familiar with the story of Ethan Couch in Texas and his attorney’s outrageously SUCCESSFUL plea of Affluenza as a defense in his drunk driving that left FOUR people dead, by all means click HERE or do your own Googling, there’s plenty of fodder.   The gist of the story, as I see it, is that there are a group of young people (and for the minute, let’s leave affluence out of this) that steal beer, get drunk, drive and wind up killing 4 people and left 2 with serious injuries.  This week the judge in the case sentenced Ethan to 10 years probation and a long-term treatment facility and NO JAIL TIME.  Just chew on that a minute.  It’s like grizzle, you simply cannot swallow that.

Parents, we have a DUTY to parent our children.  Perhaps no one told us,or maybe we just weren’t listening/believing, but the sad fact is that parenting is the hardest flippin’ job EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR.  From the time our sweet and precious bundle crosses the threshold of placenta to oxygen it is Game On.  No joke.  Sleepless nights and sleep-deprived  parenting, potty training and 2-year-old defiance parenting, sibling rivalry and sharing parenting, school days and friendship parenting, tween angst and teen independence parenting, college life and young adult parenting and then…..then….then…..we can be friends.  First we must parent.  That, folks, is a marathon, so best fuel up!!!

Parenting means loving those kids and setting boundaries.  Let’s clarify:

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē/
noun
plural noun: boundaries
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.
Failure to set those boundaries leads to confusion when our kids are trying to figure it out for themselves.  I’m not advocating helicopter parenting, however, I AM all for setting up expectations and explanations of WHY we set limits and the consequences and following through.  The follow through is the hardest part and the most crucial, otherwise, where is the lesson learned?  And lo, there are MANY, MANY lessons to be learned, and some a few times before the lesson is mastered.
Currently, our 8th grader has had a semester of slacking to the max in his math class.  Now, it IS an 11th grade math class and we don’t expect an “A”; we DO expect effort.  The effort has been lacking to the tune of a D/F which has resulted in some pretty uncomfortable consequences.  Those consequences have resulted in 1)renewed focus, 2)more attentive and interactive child, 3)renewed vigor on task, 4)completed assignments, 5)increased understanding, 6) D/F to a C and 7)mature and tremendous communication among us and our son. It’s a challenge and sadly, we’ve done this last year and apparently we have short-term memory in this house at times and need to repeat lessons, however, as seen with our 10th grader….they DO learn, apply and adjust with much fruit to be shown.  Like I said earlier, it’s flippin’ hard; parenting is hard.
In the words of Nike,  JUST DO IT.  and then do it again.  and again.  and again.
Otherwise, we will have more BS “Affluenza” nonsense diagnoses to deal with rather than just calling a spade a spade.  If you mess up, there are consequences and if you REALLY mess up….there are REAL consequences.
Ethan (like MANY before him) made a terrible and tragic choice that dealt consequences that he will deal with mentally for the rest of his life.  Sadly, his consequences aren’t much different from the coddling that led to his poor choices.  Mamas and Papas, come on, let us ALL buckle down and hold our kids accountable for the choices they make, because Lord knows the mess we are in for when we don’t.
Galations 6:7-9
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
 

The marathon that is sobriety November 4, 2013

I had the blessing of attending a gratitude dinner with my Hubs this weekend for AA.  It was an area-wide event and easily attended by 200+ people.  Tables of 8, dinner of Thanksgiving foods (appropriately themed) and a desert table groaning under the redonkulous amounts of sugar and butter.  It was a pleasure to put faces to names of the Hubs friends, just fantastic people.  A few observances of  mine throughout the evening:

  • Coffee.  Water.  Lots and lots of coffee and water.
  • Laughter.  Smiles.  Tons.  No grumpy, long faces.  Joy.
  • Introductions everywhere (thank God for nametags!)
  • Rekindled friendships.

There was a speaker who gave his story of 30+ years of sobriety.  A lovely, 70-something man with at times an emotionally shaky voice as he recalled his life, peppered with witty comments and hindsight observances.   There was no “massive event” in his life that is present in many alcoholic stories (and drug stories); mainly a life of alcohol-centered living, obnoxious behavior and a wife (and family) that had enough.  His message:  there doesn’t need to be a “massive event” to stop drinking, but if you have repeated comments, suggestions, pleas from family and friends to “do something about your drinking”, it’s a red flag.  Sadly, not everyone sees it until it is too late.

At the end of the evening there was a sobriety countdown.  Starting with the most years sober (52) and counting down to the shortest span of sobriety (2 days).  It was humbling, impressive and hopeful and I found myself tearing up and that marathon that those with the least sobriety had ahead of them and yet with the amazing support in that room……hopeful in that they had every tool available to them to take each day….one day at a time.

Sadly, we did not win the 50/50 drawing…shucks!!!  $350!!!  However, I sure came away richer than I arrived.

Hebrews 12:1  

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

 

One day we will miss this October 6, 2013

Filed under: Family,Gratitude,Kids,Life,Parenting,Photos,Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 7:21 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,
Our Warrior photobombing the Neighbor's Ice Cream Mascot's photo.

Our Warrior photobombing the Neighbor’s Ice Cream Mascot’s photo.

Taking a cue from my dear friend, D, whose daughters are grown and spread their wings…..one day all this noise and crazy will be over and we will miss it.  So, when we have a super crazy day or week or season, I try to remember this.  Today it was my mantra.

Starting at 5:30 a.m. with my coffee and wake up

6 a.m. waking 2 of 4 kiddos

Leaving house at 7:15 with our youngest son for him to assume his position as school mascot at a “Mascot Breakfast” prior to our town’s parade and fall family festival

Hubby takes our youngest daughter to her game for cheer at 7:45 a.m.

I take our mascot to meet his school band where he assumes his role as Band Captain for the parade.

Oldest son heads out for a day of skateboarding with friends.

Parade ends and we head home about 11.

I take our oldest daughter across town to hit the beach with a friend and her family and then go grocery shopping.

Hubby brings youngest home to prep for a birthday party.

Hubby goes for  a 20 mile bike ride (he’s training for a November triathlon).

I run youngest daughter to birthday party.

It’s only 1 p.m.

Youngest son goes for a bike ride with friends.

Now, if you’ve done the math and followed carefully you will see what happened here this day.

NO.  KIDS.  IN.  THE.  HOUSE.

FOR.   TWO.  HOURS.

Guess what we did?

Napped.

***Disclaimer:  don’t feel too sorry for me, because in between the parade drop off and parade start I had an hour to kill and promptly hit Target, Starbucks and chatted with my girlfriend on the phone for a lengthy and overdue chat (in fact I talked to TWO girlfriends at length today) and then went to dinner with my mom and my sister who were both in town.  Therefore, it was a crazy and well-executed start to the day, but a grand, grand finish!

Dinner on the water with these two awesome beauties?  Yes, please!

Dinner on the water with these two awesome beauties? Yes, please!

 

Put on the armor September 30, 2013

An interesting conversation with a 69 -year-old  patient the other day; father to a 17-year-old girl and 3-9 year olds.  (You do the math)  The theme of the conversation was on protecting our kids.  His word:  shielding.

Same day, extremely disturbing article on kids and porn and their exposure to it and how it is corrupting “normal”.  Read at your own risk.  But read it.    Don’t think that because it’s from the UK it doesn’t apply to you.  It does.  I would paraphrase the article, but Martin Daubney says it all….

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yes, please. I’ll take 4.

It was enough for me to shock our 16-year-old by asking if he was looking at porn on his phone.  Then to follow-up with the “have you ever?” question.  Awkward?  yup.  Necessary?  Absolutely.  The end of the conversation?  No way, no how.

 

Our kids are good.  I don’t wish them to be exposed to anything like this.  Ever.  However, I’m realistic and I’d rather be proactive and have the conversations than to let them navigate it on their own.  Talk about why porn is so destructive.  Talk about why we must fight hard against objectifiying women.  The cold hard reality is, we can’t wait for this conversation.  Like drugs, alcohol and bullying, this must be an ongoing conversation.  Shield all you want, but I want my kids armed and prepared…equipped against this battle that threatens their hearts and souls and bodies.

If we can’t be open and discuss the evils in this world, we better build a fortress or prepare for heartache.  It’s a new and scary world out there and as parents, we are called to be involved or reap the consequences.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 [b]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 [c]With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, [e]be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

***Bible verse, New American Standard Bible version

 

 
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